As a first step towards formulating the project, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj constituted an Expert Group in June, 2007 under the Chairmanship of Dr. B.K. Gairola, Director General, NIC, Government of India. The Expert Group was entrusted with the task of assessing the IT Programmes of Ministry of Panchayati Raj and recommending cost effective solutions along with the cost implications. Adopting a consultative approach, the Committee interacted with the States/UTs to assess the existing status of computerization up to the Gram Panchayat level, including the initiatives undertaken by the State Governments. In order to understand the ground realities, the Committee conducted field visits to some of the Gram Panchayats in the selected rural areas where some IT initiatives had been undertaken. Inputs from eminent experts in the public and private sector were also taken into account as part of the consultative process. In essence, it found that while some computerization efforts had already been made at Panchayat level by States like Gujarat, West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Goa, these attempts were limited as they were driven by short term goals and were unable to completely transform Panchayats due to lack of a holistic perspective. It was felt that a more comprehensive approach was required to make a cognizable impact on the functioning of the Panchayats for the benefit of the citizens. These recommendations formed the basis for the conceptualization of ePanchayat MMP.
The e-Panchayat project holds great promise for the rural masses as it aims to transform the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) into symbols of modernity, transparency and efficiency. This is a one of its kind nationwide IT initiative introduced by Ministry of Panchayati Raj that endeavours to ensure people's participation in programme decision making, implementation and delivery. The project aims to automate the functioning of the 2.45 lakh Panchayats in the country. The project addresses all aspects of Panchayats' functioning including Planning, Monitoring, Implementation, Budgeting, Accounting, Social Audit and delivery of citizen services like issue of certificates, licenses etc.
Objectives of e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project
If the Panchayats are to perform efficiently and effectively all the mandated tasks, which are increasing day by day, extensive use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is needed. Moreover, there is a strong need to build a "digital inclusive society" where large sections of rural population are able to benefit from new technologies; can access and share information and services freely and can participate in the development process more effectively.
The Panchayats being at the interface of rural citizens and governance structure are an effective vehicle to induce mass ICT culture at the grassroots level. It is with this broad vision that MoPR formulated a scheme for ICT enablement of all the Panchayats in the country on a Mission Mode approach. The e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP) is intended to address all the aspects of Panchayats' functioning from internal core functions such as Decentralized Planning, Budgeting, Accounting, Implementation and monitoring etc. to service delivery like issue of certificates, licenses etc.
Hence the key objectives of e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project are to use ICT for:
- Automation of internal workflow processes of Panchayats
- Improving delivery of services to citizens
- Capacity building of Panchayat Representatives and Officials
- Social Audit
- Transparency, Accountability, Efficiency and RTI compliance of Panchayats
- Improving Governance of local self-government
The Panchayats being the basic unit for planning and implementation of a large number of schemes and services, this MMP would also go a long way in improving public service delivery through PRIs with better outcomes.
e-Panchayat MMP is aimed at automating internal work flow processes of all the 2.45 Lakh Panchayats (approx) across the country. This will cover approximately 30 lakh elected members and several lakhs PRI functionaries. In 2009-10, in order to lay a strong foundation for e-Panchayat and to ensure that project evolved through an elaborate consultative process, Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) commissioned a comprehensive study covering all States and UTs to identify all the Information and Services Needs of the stakeholders viz. Central Ministries, State Departments, Panchayats and Citizens. Field studies were conducted in 135 Panchayats across 45 Districts covering all 34 States/UTs. 23 Central Schemes were studied and discussions were held with 11 Central Line Ministries, their State Departments, District and Block Administrations and several field level functionaries. Inputs were also taken from Gram Sabha meetings and through other focused group discussions with citizens.